Aaron Meza: People I've Known
From Embarko loc to Crail Couch creator to mastermind behind Nike SB’s recent “Constant” flick, Aaron “The Mez” Meza is the ultimate benevolent skate biz insider. He’s met hella fools, more homies than haters, and has a story for each and every one. Read on!As seen in the March 2022 issue
A lot of people don’t know this, but Rick has an acute sense of smell. I think it’s more of a liability than an asset, as he’s always the first one in the room to smell a fart. On the third Beauty and the Beast we needed to drive from our camp in Malmö over to our hotel in Copenhagen. Rick had to ride in the back of the van that was filled to the brim with everyone’s luggage. The only place he could fit was in the trunk area on top of all of the boards and bags and right next to a ripe P-Stone, who hadn’t showered since we got there and was eating at least an entire bulb of raw garlic a day. When we finally cracked the hatch at our destination, Rick tumbled out teary eyed and looking nauseous. He whispered to me, “I almost puked,” but with no love lost for Stone, of course.
At the first game of SKATE that éS hosted, they had Sal MC’ing. As I was walking across the course, Sal spotted me and said on the mic, “Aaron Meza, a true stranger to switch-stance skateboarding.” It was as hilarious as it was accurate.
My first interaction with Kent was when he yelled, “Find it yourself!” when I asked him if they had a particular shirt in stock at FTC. Such was life in skateshops in the early ’90s. A short three years later he let me make my first skate video with no proof that I could actually make one. He gave me total control and never once asked to change anything. It didn’t even dawn on me at the time, but now that I’m older, I really appreciate Kent for that.
I invited Jake to my wedding and on his RSVP he wrote, “Sit me next to Ken Block and Cuba Gooding Jr.” He skipped the church part and just showed up to the reception in his street clothes, with Luke Ogden as his plus one. He made up for it by handing me an old, tattered ’70s board with clay wheels and sweetly said, “This is my very first board, Aaron. And it’s the board Gonz skated on the cover of Thrasher.” Later that evening Mike Burnett let me know that that was at least the third “my first skateboard” he’d seen Jake gift someone and Max Schaaf verified that it was definitely not the board from the Gonz cover. Nevertheless, it’s still prominently displayed in my living room. Love you, Jake.
Rudy is my trippiest friend. We ate lunch together a lot when I worked at Girl. At one of our favorite spots, I noticed he always wanted to sit at these taller tables with high barstools. One time I asked him why he liked the tall tables over the regular-sized ones. “Elevation!” he explained, enthusiastically.
Stevie’s first trip to Europe was on the morning after the Modus Operandi premiere. Stevie had pulled an all-nighter, and he fell asleep as the plane was taxiing for take off—and didn’t wake up until we landed in Finland. He opened his eyes and said “What? We haven’t even taken off yet?” He thought we were still in LA and didn’t realize he’d slept through the entire 11-hour flight. Free time warp to Europe? Can’t get luckier than that.
There were a few years in the heyday of Slap Magazine where Lance had the High Speed credit card running real hot! No exaggeration, I personally ate over $1500 worth of meals on that company card—and I didn’t even work for them! Tons of burritos, nice Italian meals in North Beach and even an outing to a firing range once—it was just one of the many things I absorbed from Lance that made me want to be a magazine editor myself someday.
Despite being the only two young filmers in our area—and maybe even the country—we actually didn’t talk much as kids. But, we talk an awful lot now, and mostly about who made better videos—Mike Ternasky or Stacy Peralta? I go with Stacy.
I know he hates this topic, but when Jason was on The Osbournes my childhood friends’ mom, who was a fan of the show, couldn’t believe I knew someone on TV. He was nice enough to talk to her on the phone one time, but she just got embarrassed and handed the phone back to me right away. Thanks, Dill!
G-Man, an Embarco loc, used to come down after his shift at a local pizzeria with a box full of leftover slices for the crew. We’d all swarm and they’d be gone in an instant. One time Shelby grabbed more than he could hold, so he started in on his first slice and just laid the other right on top of the take off of the little three. No plate or nothing—just right there on the cement. I didn’t know if he was tossing it out or saving it for later. Sure enough, as soon as he was done with the first slice, he picked it back up and took it down. A true SF legend!
I’ve been to five continents with Brad and Brian. They’re great to travel with and I’ve never seen two totally different people be such compatible friends.
Walking back to the our hotel one night at a trade show, Dimitry and I saw a woman peeing in the bushes about 40 yards up. She happened to walk into the hotel we were going to and we all got onto the same elevator. I thought to myself, Oh, man, he’s gonna light her up about it, but a group of girls also got into the elevator carrying a bunch of balloons, and like an easily-distracted dog, he focused his attention on playing with the balloons and seemed to forget all about the pee lady. When we arrived at her floor she made her exit, but not before Dimitry quit hitting the balloons, turned to her and said, “Hey!” stopping her dead in her tracks. “We saw you pee!” She looked mortified as the elevator doors closed in front of her, and Dimitry went back to playing with the balloons.
Thanks to Eric, in the early 2000s I got to live in a very affluent part of the Hollywood Hills in a newly-remodeled guest house for only $500 a month! He could’ve charged at least five times that amount. He also swigged tequila from a bottle with my dad at my wedding—a favorite memory for Ron Meza. Speaking of Ron, the first time my parents visited me at Eric’s house, he pointed to my car out front, a used Geo Prism, and asked, “Do you get a lot of tickets here?” I said, “For what?” to which he replied, “Parking this piece of shit in this nice neighborhood.” Thanks, Dad!
Years ago I was at Disneyland with my kids. I saw Louie across the way and walked right over to him and gave him a big ol’ hug. Halfway through our embrace, it dawned on me that I had never even met Louie before—we just had so many mutual friends that I thought I had. He didn’t seem to mind, though. Good hugger, too.
One day while working on Mid90s, Jonah Hill spontaneously asked Jerry and his wife Kat to play small roles in one of the scenes (which later got cut). Jerry seemed pretty amused by it but also took it fairly seriously. He told me he made lots of “Now that I’m an actor jokes” to Kat on the ride home and later that night he texted me this photo below.
Chico’s one of my oldest skate friends. I’m truly in awe of how much he skates now, but back in the ’90s he sometimes had a more laid-back approach. We were all at Pier 7 one day and Chico rolled up with Luke Ogden saying he just shot a still photo of a switch crook on a metal windowsill ledge just down the street. Mike York said, “Sick, switch crook?! Which way did you pop out?” To which a confused Chico responded, “Pop out? I didn’t!”
The first night I hung out with The Gav he wiped a booger on my Chocolate cords. He’s been making me laugh ever since.
Besides being the first sponsored skater to ask me to film, James was also the first person to break the news to me about the formation of Plan B and that Gator had killed someone. Good or bad, Kelch will give to ya’ straight.
For about half a year, Henry and I went to the same high school, but never said a single word to each other. He was my favorite skater and we even had a class together. I guess we were just shy. I did later film him doing the first-ever fakie 5-0 to kickflip out, so there’s that.
We went on a Fourstar trip to Australia in 2014. The name of the tour was Crocodile Done Deal. The first day there Feds was all excited and took off, only to return an hour later wearing a dinosaur costume. We asked him where he got it, and he said he went and rented it from a local costume shop for the trip. “But that’s a dinosaur costume, it’s not a crocodile,” I told him, to which he replied, “But, he rented it to me as a crocodile!” One of many lost-in-translation moments with my dear Italian friend Federico. Either way, he had a lot of fun with it.
When it came time to film the skits for The Chocolate Tour Tony was easily the best actor of the bunch. Being in a cop uniform really got him into character. So much so, that he actually waved over a car from the side of the road. They pulled over, he sternly asked them where they were headed and then sent them on their way. They didn’t suspect a thing.
One time Girl’s French distributor took us out for a spin on a small rented pontoon boat around the beautiful Mediterranean. After a long, fun day of jumping off cliffs and swimming in the sea, I tirelessly struggled back into the boat one last time, hoisted over the pontoon by Chris Roberts and Kenny Anderson. It was kind of an effort each time to get in, so I just laid there flat on my back, exhausted, on the small deck of the tiny boat. Sam still had to be pulled in behind me and too tired to move I just giggled, “Just slide him right on top of me!” And so they did, with Smyth and I soaking wet, pancaked on top of each other, chest to chest and laughing our balls off.
I love Lee’s laugh so much that I went and saw Team America: World Police a second time with him just so I could hear him laugh for an hour and a half.
My earliest memories of being friends with Mike are the times I’d pick him up at his house in Daly City on my way to Embarcadero. Every time, no matter the weather, he’d have the furnace all the way up and would take a shower while listening to AMG’s Bitch Betta Have My Money at full volume.
One time Spike called Girl and asked if we could be extras in a music video he was directing. It was for Kanye and we were instructed to wear “club gear.” Most of us were past our clubbing years and the clothes in our closets would confirm that. So when Ben showed up in his best club attire—a Diamond/Girl collaboration with a giant illustration of Marlyn Monroe on the front—we all burst into laughter. The costume lady didn’t find it as funny and asked him to change before they started filming.
Max and I got to go on a lot of trips together and I could always count on him to say something funny to my camera and it would always be my favorite part of the video.
When Sean was new to the team we went on a Girl/Chocolate tour of the US. He was a little guy with cute hair killing every demo, being cool to the fans and even ripping street spots at night. You couldn’t ask for more. On the last night of the month-long trip, everyone was celebrating in a hotel room. Staba’s newly-bought beer bong was making the rounds and Sean stepped up for his first-ever go at the contraption. Hell, he earned it, but I couldn’t help but yell out, “There goes the hardflip!” Ben took a photo and it’s probably the cutest beer-bong pic you’ll ever see.
Scott is famously known for being a neat freak. So much so that I once caught him cleaning his chill shoes—with my toothbrush!
While in Tampa with Girl and Chocolate one year, every time we got off the freeway to our hotel we’d pass this bizarre structure that looked like a drive-up photo mat, but maybe twice the size—and was now converted into a strip club. We were very baffled as to how it might all work. After a few nights of driving by we finally decided to see what it was all about. We knocked on the door and a nice young lady came out and explained that it was strip club of sorts with some private booths. Kinda sketchy. We were like “Oh, cool. We were just curious.” But as we were leaving she stopped us and said, “While you guys are here, can you knock on that last booth? There’s a guy in there that won’t leave and we don’t know what to do.” Gino Iannucci obliged, and cautiously yanked open the door. To our shock, disbelief and total amusement, out stormed an equally shocked and amused Sean Sheffey with a full pizza in his hand! We all lost it and Kelly Bird loudly exclaimed, “That alone was worth the price of my flight!”
Check out these other "People I've Known":
8/03/2021It’s almost fall, but Cody keeps the summer vibes going strong, putting it down in LA with the usual suspects and nostalgic scenes. Join the party.
4/28/2021Louie is an ageless wizard whose skating is a unique mix of creativity, fun and gnarliness. He has seen a lot in his decades on board and here are some of the characters who left their mark on the magnificent madman.
10/14/2020For all the people he clowns, Gary also gives respect in equal measure. Here is the king of skate news in his own words.
7/01/2020Jerry shares his inspiration behind Sci-Fi Fantasy in the wake of his Vans collab. Track down the kicks and let’s see some hammers in those sandals.
2/07/2020Vans pulls out all the stops and then some to ring in Rowan’s new signature shoe—sky diving, skate jam and even a bowling-alley blowout with live performance from '70s Zamrock pioneers WITCH. We intend to cause havoc!